Our Lord’s priestly office appears as the fulfilment of divine love. However the apostle does not give a didactic lesson the this ministry. His intention is rather to hold up the perfect example of our Lord to all Christians so that they would be prepared for the coming times of persecution and unjust discrimination. There is no higher or better example of perfect love than this one. Jews and gentiles – representatives of all the nations of the world really – cover our Lord with pain and hurt that everybody believes him to be outcast by God himself and struck and punished by the divine wrath. The people are out to get and kill him, whereas he calls blessings, forgiveness and mercies unto his persecutors and tormentors. His painful sufferings he is able to apply as a propitiation for our sins and for a sacrifice that procures an eternal righteousness for godless sinners and allows humanity to get of scot-free. Thus the apparent perpetrator becomes the sacrifice for the world and the terrible murder of God’s only begotten Son is God’s purposeful salvation of mankind. With this most profound act of darkness we have the most hallowed and brightest deed of light. In the mean evil of his tormentors divine love triumphs. It hallows godless murderers and turns them into God’s beloved children.
Holy and merciful God! Forgive us all our sins for Christ’s sake and because of his holy, innocent sacrifice. Let his cross comfort us and give us hope. Let it be our refuge too, so that we may die to sin and live in righteousness, justice and peace patiently carrying our cross and remain steadfast in the true faith until the very end and finally enter your eternal glory. Amen.
Darkness on the cross, dying hangs the lamb of God. All sins carried by this one. He suffers for us all. Don’t part before you’ve taken my sin too. Let me find grace upon grace and take up from me all my transgressions, omissions and my sinful being. Rescue, save, forgive, sanctify, heal and hallow – o Lord my God! (Hermann von Bezzel 1861-1917)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Wednesday after the second Sunday after Easter: Misericordias Domini. It is found on Pg. 176 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.